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Asbestos Victim Awarded $13 Million From Colgate-Palmolive

If you’re a woman of a certain age, then you probably remember a very popular product called Cashmere Bouquet – it was a scented talcum powder that came in a can, and it was sold and manufactured by Colgate-Palmolive. Although the company sold off that product back in 1995, this week a jury determined that the company had to pay $13 million in damages to a woman who claims that her mesothelioma diagnosis is a result of exposure to the asbestos contained in the beauty product.

It has long been thought that talc, the main ingredient in body powder, contains asbestos, a deadly carcinogen that was widely used in industrial and construction settings until it was determined that its use was toxic. Asbestos is a mineral that has been used for centuries because of its heat and flame resistance and its strength, but in the middle of the 20th century it came to light that people who breathed in asbestos dust were becoming sick with serious and fatal diseases such as asbestosis, lung cancer, and mesothelioma. It was further discovered that companies that used asbestos in their manufacturing process were aware of its dangers but kept it a secret in order to avoid litigation and having to find a more costly alternative. As a result of this, asbestos litigation has become the single biggest mass tort in American legal history.

The case involving Cashmere Bouquet accused the manufacturer of knowing about the dangers of asbestos in their product but failing to provide warning to consumers. There have been studies done into whether asbestos is present in talc, and the U.S. Food and Drug Administration did their own research several years ago that determined that asbestos was not present in cosmetics that contained talcum powder, but acknowledged that there are long-standing concerns about asbestos contamination, and the possibility that it might cause both lung diseases and ovarian cancer.

The Los Angeles jury in this case deliberated for only two hours before determining that Colgate-Palmolive was 95 percent responsible for the victim’s illness. Judith Winkler’s husband received $1.4 million in damages as part of the $13 million decision. This is not the first such verdict involving talc and asbestos – a man was recently awarded $1.6 million in a similar case.

Terri Oppenheimer

Terri Oppenheimer is an independent writer, editor and proofreader. She graduated from the College of William and Mary with a degree in English. Her dreams of a writing career were diverted by a need to pay her bills. She spent a few years providing copy for a major retailer, then landed a lucrative career in advertising sales. With college bills for all three of her kids paid, she left corporate America for a return to her original goal of writing. She specializes in providing content for websites and finds tremendous enjoyment in the things she learns while doing her research. Her specific areas of interest include health and fitness, medical research, and the law.

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